Celebrities may temper Twitter comments after 2011 blunders

Sat Dec 31, 2011 3:03pm EST
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Celebrities may resist the urge to send a stream of consciousness on Twitter in the new year, after famous people tweeted their way into trouble on everything from boxer briefs to breast-feeding in 2011.

NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne became the latest celebrity to blunder on Twitter, when he recently had to apologize for a tweet critical of public breast-feeding.

But Kahne has been far from alone in discovering Twitter's pitfalls. The year 2011 saw Congressman Anthony Weiner resign in a scandal that began with an errant tweet, and the musings of Hollywood stars such as the tech savvy Ashton Kutcher and comic Gilbert Gottfried generated public controversy.

As a result of those and other scandals, 2011 may be seen as a turning point when more celebrities and politicians saw the dangers of Twitter and quit sending unfiltered messages, pop culture experts said.

The public already knows speeches and even snappy quips from public figures are often scripted, so fans are likely to understand if the handlers of celebrities play a larger role in managing their Twitter accounts.

"There was a time from 2008 to 2011 where Twitter was like, whatever was on your mind you tweeted about it -- literally mindlessly," said radio host Cooper Lawrence, author of "The Cult of Celebrity."

"Now you're going to see the other side of the bell curve, where people are more cautious. Politicians are already more cautious," she said.

In Washington, D.C., no better example of a Twitter train wreck can be found than the career of former Rep. Anthony Weiner, a once influential Democrat from New York.   Continued...